Quick! What’s the best way to improve your email marketing right now? Grow your list? Send more emails? Change vendors? Use emojis in your subject line?
The answer is…none of the above.
Because the reality is, the best way to improve right now is with your words. Your email copywriting is something you can improve today to drive higher open rates, CTRs and ROI.
Look at your own inbox: How many marketing emails stand out and get your attention, pique your interest, and compel you to act? Not many, right? And that’s your opportunity, your competitive edge, when you learn to do content better than everyone else.
This isn’t just my opinion. Research proves I’m right.
Better Content Is the #1 Way to Improve Email Results
When research company Ascend2 asked marketers for the best tactics for improving the effectiveness of email programs, “better content” was the number one answer at 66%.
The question was asked as part of the Email Marketing Effectiveness Survey. And yes, that’s two-thirds of the marketers who responded to the survey saying better content is key to success. Better email design was cited by only 37%.
When I asked Todd Lebo, CEO of Ascend2, about the finding, he responded, “Marketing professionals are increasingly aware that delivering relevant and engaging content is essential to email marketing success.”
Better Content Means a Better User Experience
But why? Why is content the driver? Todd believes it has to do with the user experience, especially since “more personalization” ranked almost as high as “better content” at 65%.
“Marketers have learned that enhancing the user experience through better content and more personalization is the best approach for improving the effectiveness of their email programs,” he told me.
It’s important to understand this concept of user experience when talking about email. Email copywriting is not like other forms of copywriting because you are showing up in the user’s space, as in their inbox or on their phone. Compare that to a website or social media: They go to you in those cases. But email is like showing up at someone’s house and knocking on the front door. It’s a different kind of experience for the user when compared to other forms of marketing, and that changes how you should think about your email copywriting.
Plus, as marketers, we simply cannot afford to ignore content. According to MarketingSherpa, “content is not relevant to me” is the number two reason for unsubscribing (after “too many emails” at number one). That’s how much consumers appreciate better content—and you should too.
Better Content Means More Effective Email Marketing
Better content not only keeps subscribers subscribed, however. It literally improves email effectiveness. Better content improves engagement rates, decreases unsubscribes, and positively impacts deliverability. Why? Because:
- It’s more relevant…
- …and therefore more engaging…
- …and therefore leads to a higher email deliverability rate.
It’s no wonder two-thirds of marketers say better content is the best way to improve!
What Does “Better Content” Look Like?
It makes sense, right? It’s kind of a no brainer, actually. People want better content and therefore better content equals better results.
So just what is “better content”? What does it look like?
First let’s talk about what it’s not. Better content is not generic, salesy or poorly written. This should be obvious, but—based on the majority of sales emails I get—it’s not. Far too many marketing emails are written with a batch-and-blast mentality. They are pushy with zero concern for the recipient. And they read as if they were dashed off in a few minutes.
On the other hand, better content is relevant to the customer because it’s about the customer. It’s what I call customer-centric. That means it’s about what they are buying, not what you are selling. You might be selling mattresses, but they are buying a good night’s sleep.
Better content is about the good night’s sleep.
Customer-centric email copywriting is helpful, useful, empathic and authentic. That’s what better content looks like.
However, writing customer-centric sales and marketing emails is harder than it sounds because it requires you to get out of your own head. Good content is easy to spot, but not to do, especially if you’re not sure how to judge your current content. So here’s a quick way to rate how you’re doing: Count the pronouns used in your email copywriting. If you use “we” or “I” more than “you,” you’re probably not writing customer-centric emails and your content is falling short.
3 Ways to Improve Your Email Copywriting and Write Better Content
But don’t panic! This is not rocket science. You don’t need a degree in English or Marketing to improve your email copywriting. I worked as a freelance copywriter for 20 years—and I have a master’s degree in Art History. I worked my ass off to learn how to be a good copywriter, but I don’t have a degree in English or Marketing or writing sales copy. You don’t need one either.
The truth is, you can dramatically improve your email copywriting when you apply these three techniques:
- Figure out what they’re really buying and write about that, not what you’re selling. This is critical. Until you know what they’re really buying, you can’t write relevant email content. Is it a mattress or a good night’s sleep?
- Write something you’d want to read. Be honest with yourself. Would you want to read it really? Would you gladly open that email if it showed up in your inbox?
- Write to one person…as a real person. Imagine you’re talking to them IRL. How would that change the way you’re writing your marketing emails? Which pronoun would you use in real life, “you” or “I/we”?
You Can Write Better Email Content, I Promise
As you can see by these three tips I’ve described above, you don’t have to be a talented writer—or marketer—to improve the effectiveness of your email programs. You only have to start putting the customer first when you write your emails.
And if you want to learn more and continue to improve your email content beyond those three tips, you have plenty of ways to learn. For example, you can take the online class Intermediate Email Copywriting with 19 tips, all of them easily learned and easy to apply. Or you can read blogs like this for more tips, or simply study the emails in your own inbox to figure out what works.
Only make the effort and your email copywriting will get better and better, meeting the requirement of “better content” that 66% of marketers know is the number one tactic to improve the effectiveness of email programs.
And About Those Other Ways to Improve…
Finally, let’s circle back to the other ways to improve your email program mentioned in the beginning of this post, because they are all valid—just not implemented as quickly as better email copywriting. Here are some links to help you put these other improvements into practice too, as you learn:
Lastly, if you’re a non-copywriter writing that email content, you might also like Email Copywriting for the Non-Copywriter from EmailCritic.